PM Lee asks SM Teo to lead independent review of Ridout Road bungalows' rental after Shanmugam, Vivian call for it

PM Lee asks SM Teo to lead independent review of Ridout Road bungalows' rental after Shanmugam, Vivian call for it
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he asked for reports from relevant agencies last week regarding the properties at Ridout Road that are rented out to Cabinet Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan.

In a statement on Tuesday (May 23), PM Lee said that the pair had spoken to him and requested for a review that is "independent of the ministries and agencies they supervise".

PM Lee also asked Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean to review the matter and "establish whether proper processes have been followed, and if there has been any wrongdoing".

"This must be done to ensure that this government maintains the highest standards of integrity," said PM Lee.

"I have asked SM Teo to carry out the review expeditiously and to make the findings public in time for the Parliamentary sitting."

This comes in the wake of the Singapore Land Authority's (SLA) statement on May 12 regarding two residential state properties rented separately by Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan.

Several Members of Parliament (MP) have also separately filed Parliamentary questions regarding the matter, which will be answered in July during the next sitting of Parliament.


Rentals 'performed in full compliance with procedures': SLA

Earlier this month, SLA issued a statement responding to a series of online articles published in a blog post by opposition Reform Party's chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam about the two state bungalows rented by the two ministers.

The two colonial bungalows — at 26 and 31 Ridout Road — are rented by ministers Shanmugam and Vivian respectively.

In his blog post, Jeyaretnam had questioned if the ministers were "paying less than the fair market value" for the properties, calling on the statutory board to "shed some light" on the auction process.

In response, SLA said on May 12 that both properties had been vacant for several years and that these rentals were "performed in full compliance with the relevant SLA procedures".

In the case of 26 Ridout Road, SLA said that it was vacant for more than four years before it was tenanted to Shanmugam in June 2018.

He was the only bidder for this property, said the agency.

"His offer, made through an agent, was higher than the guide rent, which was not disclosed to him," SLA said.

The guide rent is a reserve rent, based on market rates as determined by qualified valuers.

"Mr Shanmugam notified a senior Cabinet colleague that he was making a bid for the property," it added, without naming the senior minister.

Shanmugam renewed the tenancy for this property in June 2021 for another three years, SLA said.

Information on the property at 26 Ridout Road could only be found within a lot that included 24 and 31 Ridout Road, with a total land area of 525,171 sq ft, reported Today last week.

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